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2009 Lincoln Cents

New Cents

Image shows the front of a 2007 Lincoln cent, with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln facing right.

Over the years, there have been many design changes for the one-cent coin.  Usually, the 25-year minimum has to pass between redesigns.  But, thanks to the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Program, there were four design changes within 2009!

The year 2009 was not only the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, but the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent as well, first appearing in 1909.  The Lincoln image remained on the front of all four cents in the new program.

On the back, four different images highlighted four parts of Lincoln's life.  These coins were issued about 3 months apart in the order they happened (you can scroll down to see them).

The circulating version of these coins used the same standard inscriptions and the same metal content as had been used recently.  A special version of these coins for collectors was also made.  The coins look the same, but contain the metals that were used in the original 1909 cent (95 percent copper, 5 percent tin and zinc) instead of the modern cent's mix (2.5 percent copper, the rest zinc).

After the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Program ended, the design on the back of the one-cent coin was changed to represent the unity of the states, which President Lincoln worked so hard to restore and preserve.

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Birth and Childhood in Kentucky

Coin image shows a log cabin on a open field, surrounded by the standard one-cent reverse inscriptions, plus 1809.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a small log cabin like the one shown on this one-cent coin.  Nolin Creek ran nearby, and the closest town, 3 miles away, is now called Hodgenville.  Abraham was named after his grandfather on his father's side and was Thomas and Nancy Lincoln's second child.

When Abraham was two years old, the Lincolns moved to Knob Creek Farm, not far away.  They worked a 30-acre section of the 228-acre farm.  By the time they moved again in 1816, Abraham was old enough to fetch water and firewood.

This coin reminds us of one of the most amazing aspects of Lincoln's life:  that his humble beginnings on the Kentucky frontier were the first step on the road to the nation's presidency.

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Youth in Indiana

Coin image shows Lincoln sitting on a log and reading beside his ax, surrounded by the standard one-cent reverse inscriptions.

Abe grew into a skilled plowman and woodcutter at his new home in southern Indiana.  For a frontier farm boy in those days, there wasn't much time for learning from books or going to school.  Yet his parents loved to read and passed that love on to their son.

He often carried a book along with his axe.  By the age of 11, he had read The Life of Washington, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Robinson Crusoe, and A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.  The design on this coin captures this part of Lincoln's life by showing him reading while he takes a break from his work as a rail splitter.

While in Indiana, his mother Nancy died.  This was a terrible loss for 9-year-old Abraham.  But his father later married Sarah Bush Johnston, who proved to be a kind and caring stepmother.  The next time the family moved, Abraham was 21.

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Professional Life in Illinois

Coin image shows Lincoln standing outside the Illinois legislature, surrounded by the standard one-cent reverse inscriptions.

Thomas Lincoln decided to move the family in 1830 to Illinois, farther west.  Abraham worked at different jobs there, including piloting a steam boat.  But he was also becoming more and more interested in politics and in studying and practicing law.

He was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1834.  In 1837, he moved to Springfield, the capital of Illinois.  There, he married Mary Todd and they had their first child, Robert Todd Lincoln. Doing well as a lawyer, Lincoln won election to the US House of Representatives in 1846.

Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas for a seat in the US Senate in 1858.  Although he lost that election, the debates made him nationally famous as they showcased his debating skills, clear thinking, and moral character. Two years later, the Republicans nominated him to run for president, and he won the election.

This coin design shows Lincoln standing outside the state house of Illinois.  It reminds us of his career in law and politics before he ran for the presidency.

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Presidency in Washington, DC

Coin image shows the U.S. Capitol with its unfinished dome, surrounded by the standard one-cent reverse inscriptions.

On this coin, the US Capitol building's dome is still under construction, as it was during Lincoln's term in office.  The dome continued to rise as the Civil War raged and the Union struggled to remain united.

The war began just after Lincoln took office in 1861.  During his second year as president, Lincoln declared all slaves free in the rebel territory through the Emancipation Proclamation.  Lincoln was elected for a second term in 1864 and the war finally came to an end the following year.

Just 5 days after the war ended, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while watching a play in Washington.  Army doctors worked all night to save him, but he died the next morning at the age of 56.  Before he was buried in Springfield, Illinois, his body lay in state, visited by thousands of mourners, under the Capitol's newly-completed dome.

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